Planning

Planning at A level takes several forms. Awarding bodies offer quite different specifications, and choices within these specifications. However, there are also strict requirements common to all, including the teaching of material that covers a minimum of 200 years and the teaching of British history. The decision about which specification and which topics to teach will require consultation, careful attention to the resources available, and a clear timetable for implementation. There are then decisions to be made, some of them in consultation with senior leadership, about AS and A Level, and the scheduling and balance of time given to the different components of the specification. Individual teachers will need to plan to teach the topics in ways that enable their students to meet the assessment criteria and develop their historical thinking.  In this section you will find helpful articles, guides and resources to enable you to plan your A Level teaching.

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  • 'But why then?' Chronological context and historical interpretations

    Article

    When Michael Fordham was introduced to Dr Seuss's Butter Battle Book he immediately recognised its potential value in the classroom as a popular interpretation of the Cold War. Wanting his Year 9 pupils to explain how and why the past has been interpreted in different ways he shows the potential pitfalls...

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  • 'I feel if I say this in my essay it’s not going to be as strong’

    Article

    Jim Carroll was concerned that A-level textbooks failed to provide his students with a model of the multi-voicedness that characterises written history. In order to show his students that historians constantly engage in argument as they write, Carroll turned to academic scholarship for models of multi-voiced history. Carroll explains here...

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  • 'If everyone's got to vote then, obviously ... everyone's got to think': Using remote voting to involve everyone in classroom thinking at AS and A2

    Article

    Diana Laffin shares her findings on an action research project into the use of remote voting systems in the AS and A2 classroom. She was particularly interested in examining the impact of such devices on inclusion. For Laffin's students, participation in lessons was nothing new. Starting from a baseline of...

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  • 'Victims of history': Challenging students’ perceptions of women in history

    Article

    As postgraduate historians with teaching responsibilities at the University of York, Bridget Lockyer and Abigail Tazzyman were concerned to tackle some of the challenges reported by their students who had generally only encountered women’s history in a disconnected way through stand-alone topics or modules. Their response was to create a...

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  • A poodle with bite: Using ICT to make AS level more rigorous

    Article

    Diana Laffin describes two substantial ICT activities designed to strengthen both motivation and rigour in Year 12. In her first activity, she uses the power of ICT to develop a critical sense of audience. She shows how this can have a direct impact on improving performance in relation to examination...

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  • Allowing A-level students to choose their own coursework focus

    Article

    Faced with the introduction of the new A-levels in 2015 and with a move to a new school, Eleanor Thomas took the opportunity to embrace yet another challenge: giving her students a complete free choice about the focus of their non-examined  assessment (NEA). This article presents the rationale for her...

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  • Are you ready for your close-up?

    Article

    We are often reminded that we remember little of what we hear and read but much of what we teach. The very act of teaching forces us to clarify our understanding and to process it so that it can be communicated in a structured, clear and accessible way. Here, Heather...

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  • Basket weaving in Advanced level history...how to plan and teach the 100 year study

    Article

    The current specifications for AS/A2 history require students to study change over a period of at least 100 years. Given that the 100 year study represents just one module out of six and also that it may not complement any of the other modules selected and may therefore be wholly...

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  • Carr, Evans, Oakshott and Rudge: the benefits of AEA history

    Article

    Sometimes the only way to go beyond the exam is to take another, more difficult, test. For the top—the very top—A2 students, there is such a test available. The Advanced Extension Award [AEA] is a history paper which encourages students finishing their school careers to think about history in a...

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  • Chatting about the sixties

    Article

    Chatting about the sixties: using on-line chat discussion to improve historical reasoning in essay-writing An article about essay writing may not seem the most obvious choice for an issue of Teaching History devoted to creative thinking. Yet, as Christine Counsell so richly demonstrated in her work on analytical and discursive...

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  • Circles, anchors and finger puppets: how visual learning in 'A' level history can improve memory and conceptual understanding

    Article

    Steve Garnett shares some the techniques that he uses to involve different kinds of learner in his post-16 lessons and explains how he arrived at these approaches after reflecting on problems in his own early practice. Drawing upon the visual dimension in learning, he makes the case for including as...

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  • Couching counterfactuals in knowledge when explaining the Salem witch trials with Year 13

    Article

    Puzzled by the shrugs and unimaginative responses of his students when asked certain counterfactual questions, James Edward Carroll set out to explore what types of counterfactual questions would elicit sophisticated causal explanations. During his pursuit of the ‘gold standard’ of counterfactual reasoning, Carroll drew upon theories of academic history in...

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  • Creating confident historical readers at A Level

    Article

    Why was Pitt not a mince pie? Enjoying argument without end: creating confident historical readers at A Level How can we help pupils learn to read historically? Gary Howells explores this question by explaining how he builds reading challenges into the course of his pupils' post-16 studies and by describing...

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  • Cultivating curiosity about complexity

    Article

    A great deal has been written recently about the importance of encouraging and enabling all students to read beyond their comfort zones, beyond the textbook and certainly beyond the obvious requirements of an examination specification. Inspired by reading Orlando Figes' The Whisperers, Laura Bellinger chose to base her PGCE dissertation...

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  • Cunning Plan 163.2: Developing an A-level course in medieval history

    Article

    Medieval history has always been a Cinderella era for post-16 students. Some schools offer A-levels in classical civilisation, but most A-level history courses focus on the early-modern and modern periods. A few schools teach an A-level medieval module, with the Crusades being a popular choice. I was therefore excited at...

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  • Cunning Plan 175: Using the England's Immigrants database

    Article

    Ever wondered if there is a streak of masochism in those designing A-level history syllabi? The absence of the Spanish Armada from the current Edexcel breadth study in favour of (among other delights) ‘the new draperies’ prompts this question. But the challenge of enthusing modern teenagers with woollen cloth can...

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  • Deepening post-16 students' historical engagement with the Holocaust

    Article

    How can we deepen and broaden post-16 students' historical engagement with the Holocaust? Developing a rationale and methods for using filmPeter Morgan represents what is best about the reflective practitioner - an experienced teacher of some 15 years' standing, he continues to challenge himself and to seek ways to improve...

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  • Developing awareness of the need to select evidence

    Article

    Let's play Supermarket ‘Evidential' Sweep: developing students' awareness of the need to select evidence Despite having built a sustained focus on historical thinking into their planning for progression across Years 7 to 13, Rachel Foster and Sarah Gadd remained frustrated with stubborn weaknesses in the evidential thinking of students in...

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  • Developing sixth-form students' thinking about historical interpretation

    Article

    Twist and shout? Developing sixth-form students' thinking about historical interpretation

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  • Developing students' thinking about change and continuity

    Article

    The more things change, the more they stay the same: developing students' thinking about change and continuity Finding ways to characterise the nature of change and continuity is an important part of the historian's task, yet students find it particularly challenging to do. Building on her previous work on change, Rachel...

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